Autoimmune Disease Company Hires Life Science Industry Experts to Lead Company
Through Next Stage into Human Clinical Studies with Novel Oral Small Molecule AX-158
Cambridge, MA, May 13, 2020 – Artax Biopharma, Inc., a biotechnology company
focused on transforming autoimmune disease treatment, announces their
expanded management team, being led by newly appointed Chief Executive Officer
(CEO) Joseph Lobacki. Comprised of immunology industry leaders and scientists,
the team represents deep expertise in drug discovery, development and
collaborations from some of the world’s most prestigious institutions.
Artax Biopharma is poised to enter clinical trials with the small molecule AX-
158, a novel approach to treat multiple autoimmune diseases without causing the
immune suppression commonly associated with current autoimmune disease
Joseph Lobacki assumes the helm of Artax Biopharma after more than three
decades of leadership including research, development, and commercial
experience in executive roles across large and small biopharmaceutical companies,
including Sanofi Genzyme, Medivation, Verastem, and Micromet. The former CEO,
Damia Tormo, will continue as a member of the Board of Directors and we thank
Dr. Tormo for his years of work in founding and building Artax.
“We are thrilled to have such a strategic and experienced leader as Joseph
Lobacki steering Artax from our new US headquarters at this seminal time,”
stated Artax Biopharma’s Executive Chairman of the Board Alan Walts, Ph.D.
“His deep experience will prove invaluable as Artax’s first oral agent to treat autoimmune
disease prepares to enters the clinic.”
The Artax Biopharma management team includes Joseph Lobacki, CEO; Chris
VanDeusen, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer (CSO); Richard P. Polisson, M.D., MHSc,Chief Medical Officer (CMO); Karen LaRochelle, MBA, Chief Business Officer (CBO), and Andres Gagete, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, (COO).
“I am excited to lead these incredibly talented and experienced professionals
in our Cambridge location as we fulfill the Artax mission to make our treatments
available as quickly as possible to patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases.
This team possesses the critical knowledge and experience to progress our novel
immunomodulator into clinical development and to drive this important mission
added Mr. Lobacki.
Prior to Artax, Mr. Lobacki most recently served as Executive Vice President
and Chief Commercial Officer for Verastem, Inc.; Chief Operating Officer of Finch
Therapeutics Group, and Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Council Member
of Medivation, where he led a period of strong revenue growth for prostate cancer
treatment Xtandi®. Mr. Lobacki also held previous roles as Senior Vice President
and Chief Commercial Officer of Micromet, Inc., and Senior Vice President and
General Manager at Genzyme Corporation. Mr. Lobacki served as a director of
Celator Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Jazz Pharmaceuticals) and is currently on the
Boards of Sutro Biopharma and Artax Biopharma.
As CSO, Dr. VanDeusen will lead Artax’s scientific, research and translational
areas. Dr. VanDeusen brings more than 15 years of biopharmaceutical experience
and extensive expertise in drug discovery and development. He is also an inventor
and key contributor to multiple preclinical development compounds. Previously,
Dr. VanDeusen headed the chemistry division and was a global project team leader
within Tissue Protection and Repair at Sanofi Genzyme.
Dr. Polisson, in his role as Artax’s CMO, will direct the company’s clinical
development strategy. With 30 years of clinical and translational research
experience, Dr. Polisson joins Artax from the Sanofi Genzyme Research and
Development Center where he was Senior Vice President and Translational
Medicine Head directing discovery and translational medicine efforts across
multiple therapeutic areas. Previously, Dr. Polisson served as Associate Professor
of Medicine, Arthritis Unit Clinical Director at Massachusetts General Hospital and
Harvard Medical School.
As Chief Business Officer, Karen LaRochelle, MBA will lead all partner- and
investor-related interactions. With more than 25 years of biopharmaceutical
strategy and collaborations experience, her expertise in mergers & acquisitions
includes a deep history transacting for biotech companies, with several
transactions exceeding $1 billion. Prior to Artax, Ms. LaRochelle was Chief Business
Officer of PsiOxus Therapeutics. Previously in her career, Ms. LaRochelle spent
nearly 20 years with Bristol-Myers Squibb focused on strategy and transactions.
Dr. Gagete, as Artax’s COO, is currently coordinating research &
development and operations for Artax. Dr. Gagete has more than a decade of
experience in the biotech and academic sectors and was previously the Innovation
Director for Bioncotech Therapeutics.
A healthy immune system eliminates harmful foreign pathogens, while being
tolerant of self-tissues and organs. When the immune system malfunctions, cells
(T Cells) attack self-tissues and organs, causing autoimmune disease. Current
autoimmune disease therapies suppress the immune system, helping to minimize
these self-attacks, but also raise susceptibility to harmful foreign pathogens.
Immunomodulation, the process in which the immune system reduces self-attacks
while properly reacting to fight foreign pathogens, holds great potential for
AX-158 is a first-in-class, oral small molecule, preclinical immunomodulating
agent in development for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. AX-158 employs
a novel mechanism of action that selectively modulates, or adjusts, T cell responses
that play a critical role in immune system function. By selectively inhibiting Nck, a
protein, AX-158 selectively modulates self-directed T Cell activation which is a
cause of autoimmune disease. Importantly, AX-158 is not immunosuppressive and
does not impact the immune system’s ability to mount a strong response to foreign
pathogens and infections. Further, AX-158’s ability to modulate T cell responses
allows the possibility to broadly target several autoimmune diseases, therefore
potentially transforming autoimmune disease treatment.
About Artax Biopharma
Artax Biopharma is a biotechnology company transforming autoimmune
disease treatment. Artax is a life science industry leader in autoimmune disease
immunomodulation science, developing an innovative small molecule approach to
treat autoimmune disease that modulates the immune system to both treat
autoimmune disease and allow the body to fight foreign pathogens. The company
is examining a first-in-class oral immunomodulating agent as a new way to treat
multiple autoimmune diseases without causing the immune suppression
commonly associated with currently available autoimmune disease therapies. For
more information, please visit www.artaxbiopharma.com.
Karen LaRochelle, MBA
Chief Business Officer
Linda Phelan Dyson, MPH